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News Tuesday, Mar 21 2017

Amid National Trumpcare Backlash, No Accountability from Republicans About Their Own Health Care and Tax Benefits

Mar 21, 2017

As the House Rules Committee decides on amendments for Trumpcare this week, it is essential that Republicans come clean about why they are giving themselves a pass on having coverage under their own bill at the same time they are giving themselves substantial new tax benefits.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” requires that members of the Senate, the House, and congressional staff all exclusively get their health insurance coverage through the marketplaces created by the law.  The requirement became part of the ACA through an amendment written by Sen. Chuck Grassley and former Sen. Tom Coburn that the Democratic congressional leadership endorsed.

This provision was a major accountability measure that put members of Congress and their staffs on par with the American people when it comes to health care, and it was a testament to supporters’ faith in the quality of the exchanges were being made available to the public.

Given that history, it is deeply concerning that the proposed replacement for the ACA, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), or “Trumpcare” has no such requirement for members of Congress to obtain their health care through this bill.

What makes this lack of accountability for members of Congress worse under Trumpcare is that the White House itself has now estimated the bill would cost 26 million Americans their health insurance. The CBO and other organizations have also projected that Trumpcare would significantly increase health care costs for seniors, for Americans in rural areas, and for people who earn less than average.

This also comes as the American Association of Retired Persons, the American Medical Association, the American Nursing Association, the American Hospital Association, and many other organizations have expressed strong opposition to Trumpcare.

Moreover, the Kaiser Family Foundation has determined that individuals who earn as much as members of Congress would see a surge of new tax credits is Trumpcare becomes law.

Recently, when Speaker Paul Ryan was asked during a press conference why members of Congress were not being obligated to have coverage through Trumpcare, he said, “I haven’t given any thought to that.”

American Bridge President Jessica Mackler issued the following statement:
“Trumpcare would take health insurance away from 26 million Americans and increase costs for the elderly, rural Americans, and working families across the country – all to give the wealthiest Americans hundreds of billions of dollars in new tax breaks. Every member of Congress owes the American people an answer – just what would Trumpcare mean for your own care, if you aren’t required to be on it?”


Speaker Ryan said he has not “given any thought” to how members of Congress would get health insurance after passage of Trumpcare:

Press Conference by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, 3/17/2017:
QUESTION: The repeal bill is silent on where members of Congress should get their health insurance (inaudible) market (inaudible) Obamacare. Where do you think members should get their insurance?
RYAN: I haven’t given thought to that. I don’t know the answer. I — when you get rid of Obamacare, you don’t have Obamacare. We have Obamacare. We wouldn’t have Obamacare.

RYAN: I don’t — I haven’t given any thought to that.

The Affordable Care Act requires that members of Congress and congressional staff to to be covered through exchanges:

Affordable Care Act – U.S. Code, Title 42:
(D) Members of Congress in the Exchange
(i) Requirement
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are—
(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or
(II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).
(ii) Definitions
In this section:
(I) Member of Congress
The term “Member of Congress” means any member of the House of Representatives or the Senate.
(II) Congressional staff
The term “congressional staff” means all full-time and part-time employees employed by the official office of a Member of Congress, whether in Washington, DC or outside of Washington, DC.

Trumpcare would give members of Congress new tax credits because of their income level:

As Congressional Research Service (CRS) shows, “The average age of Members of the House at the beginning of the 114th Congress was 57.0 years; of Senators, 61.0 years.” Also according to the CRS, the minimum salary for members of the House and Senate is $174,000 a year.

The Kaiser Family Foundation calculates that on average, if Trumpcare were to pass, individuals who are 60 years old and who earn $100,000 a year or more will receive over 75% more tax credits than they currently receive through the ACA.

Therefore, members of Congress who support this legislation are acting to, on average, to increase the tax credits that they themselves receive, due to their higher-than-average salaries.

Published: Mar 21, 2017

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